Industry Articles





Three ways AI can transform your customers online shopping experience

Fashion eCommerce retailers and digitally native vertical brands have an incredible advantage of providing a more relevant shopping experience to their customers by way of technology and personalisation.  

Technology hosted in the “cloud” can be easily upgraded when functions or software versions need modernising, compared to clunky legacy systems that a bricks and mortar store would have in place.  These legacy systems are connected to large server units and send data back and forth between multiple sources such as: store & warehouse, store & point of sale, and point of sale to HQ. The way this data is received is called siloed data, and is interpreted separately from website analytics, CRM records, and warehouse data.  

Many legacy systems were built in the 80s, 90s and early to mid 2000’s, they were only accessible via computer hard drive, so any new technology or platform such as SaaS (software as a solution) that may be more efficient to a business, is a lot more difficult to integrate.  Unfortunately, this is a contributing factor to large retailers are finding it challenging in becoming digitally enabled businesses.

This is where digitally native e-tailers have an opportunity to continue gaining market share in retail.  Even though, most retail purchases occur in store, eCommerce and DNVB’s have created their business on the latest cloud technologies such as Shopify, BigCommerce, WooCommerce, Squarespace and Magento to name a few.  

These systems have the ability to plugin into other custom apps or widgets through Program Application Interface (API) - a set of rules and protocols connecting one cloud solution to another and the exchange of data between both.  These platforms and apps give e-tailers simple playbooks on providing fantastic online shopping experiences from discovery and personal recommendations, to frictionless payments and convenient delivery of goods.  

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Many legacy systems are rigid and don’t have the flexibility to offer a seamless consumer journey mentioned above.  However, this is changing as more resources and expertise are applied to implementing digital transformation projects. In saying that, it’s still at a slow and risky process, even though retailers are reminded constantly of the monthly store closures across the globe.

We did not come to fear the future, we came here to shape it.
— Barack Obama.

As we’re being introduced to new technologies more often, one in particular is becoming mainstream - artificial intelligence (AI).  A term once thought of as too futuristic to even consider how it would be useful, AI is proving to be a beneficial tool in aiding a customer’s online shopping journey.  

Below are three examples of incorporating AI into eCommerce, starting with the back end of the business:

Product Tagging:

Okkular IO, an Australian tech startup has developed a solution to help eCommerce retailers with automated product tagging through AI visual recognition.  The team have programmed the software to identify garment attributes such as type of pattern, length, neckline, sleeves, and colour. This positively impacts in two ways - reduces time considerably in tagging products and allows a more in depth filtering experience to shoppers.

Personalised Recommendations:

Do you have a Shopify website?  They have personalised recommendation widgets that you can plugin to your website easily and without fuss.  The tool is used to recommend products based on products frequently purchased together, or suggestions based on what a shopper likes by analysing their online behaviour.

Other personalised recommendation solutions include:

  • Shop You, a personalised mobile shopping app,

  • InteliStyle, AI styling solution and retail aggregator,

  • Fashwell, Visual search and product recommendation.

Customer Service:

Curated emails for shoppers tailored to their personal style, AI powered email marketing tool created by Vue AI.  Designed to keep a fashion brand top of mind and active in the engagement loop for longer.  This tool is used to reduce cart abandonment, promote new products that are complementary to previous purchases and cross selling in the order confirmation process.  

Chat bots are also on the rise, which are prevalent on websites, mobile apps, and Facebook Messenger.  Headliner Labs focus on delivering a great customer service for brands via Facebook Messenger through retargeting, customer chat and broadcasting.

There are many affordable AI solutions out there, and you’ll likely get a very good deal with startups who have beta products looking to test software with early adopters. This is a great way for fashion e-tailers to become innovative and learn some of the intricacies of emerging technologies along the way.  

As fashion businesses both physical and digital are constantly looking for ways to differentiate in market, implementing cutting edge solutions is a sure way to get you there, and your shoppers will thank you for being relevant.

Additional resources that you may be interested in:

Written by Saskia Fairfull, founding member of the Independent Fashion Advisory Board.  Connecting tech startups with fashion businesses.